Study: Local Mobile Search Will Pass Desktop in 2016

Local mobile searches will surpass local desktop searches for the first time in 2016, according to a new study by BIA/Kelsey. The report projects that users will conduct 113.4 billion local mobile searches vs. 85.6 billion local searches via desktop. By comparison, in 2011 there were 54.9 billion desktop searches against 19.7 billion mobile searches.

Two numbers stick out: First, BIA/Kelsey expects the number of local mobile searches to explode by nearly 600% in the next five years, while desktop searches increase less than 50%. As smartphones continue to penetrate the market — and consumers become increasingly comfortable with searching for information on the go — the disparity will only increase.

Ad dollars, however, will remain higher in desktop searches for the foreseeable future. While BIA/Kelsey thinks local mobile ad search revenue will grow from $400 million in 2011 to $3.2 billion in 2016, local search revenues from desktop access is projected to be $10.2 billion in 2016.

“It’s important to note that while mobile local search volume will exceed its desktop equivalent, ad dollars will remain lower,” said Michael Boland, senior analyst and program director, Mobile Local Media, BIA/Kelsey. “This is because advertisers aren’t yet keeping pace with the growth of mobile local ad inventory, but we expect that to evolve.”

The last line is the key. Mobile is the future. The question is whether companies can create the technology to monetize those searches.

Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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